Health Canada approves new rapid coronavirus testing kit

Apr 14 2020, 2:29 pm

Health Canada has given its stamp of approval on a Canadian bioscience company’s fast, portable COVID-19 testing kits.

The device is made by Ottawa’s Spartan Bioscience and consists of a portable DNA analyzer known as the Spartan Cube, which is the same size as a coffee cup. The Cube examines patients with Spartan’s COVID-19 test cartridges and proprietary swabs and provides results under an hour.

The Cube conveniently allows testing to be done in non-laboratory settings such as airports, border crossings, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and in remote communities.

“We are grateful to the Government of Canada for working closely with us to expedite the review and approval process,” said Paul Lem, MD, CEO of Spartan Bioscience, in a statement.

“We are ready to start shipping our portable COVID-19 test to the federal and provincial governments, and to make them widely available to Canadians. There is an urgent unmet need for rapid COVID-19 testing, and as a proudly Canadian company, we are excited that our technology will be an important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.”

The Cube was authorized  by Health Canada over the weekend and on Monday, Canada’s Chief Public Health OfficerTheresa Tam said she thinks the tests will make a “lot of difference to areas that have less access to the turnaround time.”

Tam added that the federal government is trying to secure a supply of 40,000 units of the tests per month.

“In terms of the supplies, again this is dynamic as we all know, it depends on lots of different moving parts,” said Tam. “But the procurement contract itself is trying to secure a supply of the devices with 40,000 units per month in the upcoming months and then see how that progresses in terms of the supply rate.”

Spartan said the Cube can now be shipped to its federal and provincial government partners starting “immediately.”